Photo Credit: Chris Mezzavilla
This is absolutely how the 49ers’ season will go. These predictions are infallible, and will absolutely stand the test of time when the 49ers somehow manage to miss the playoffs entirely. Here’s how the 2021 season *might* play out.
Week 1 – Sunday, September 12 at Detroit – 10:00 a.m. PT on FOX
- WIN, 1-0
- The 49ers absolutely dominate the Lions, whose roster fails to make any sense; they’ll be without Taylor Decker and starting rookie Penei Sewell at left tackle (though I suspect he’ll look more comfortable back on the left than on the right, where he’s looked completely lost).
- Something like 38-20 with 212 rushing yards sounds about right
Week 2 – Sunday, September 19 at Philadelphia – 10:00 a.m. PT on FOX
- WIN, 2-0
- Another week, another first-year head coach. Nick Sirianni’s opening presser sounded even worse than Dan Campbell’s kneecap-related ravings, and I just can’t put faith in him as a coach.
- 49ers win here again, fairly easily too
Week 3 – Sunday, September 26 vs. Green Bay Packers – 5:20 p.m. PT on NBC
- WIN, 3-0
- I think Kyle Shanahan saves a few packages for Trey Lance for this game; he does not like losing to friends and colleagues, and I suspect he’s got something special in mind for Matt LaFleur.
- Aaron Rodgers does about everything he can, but it’s decided by a late Jason Verrett interception
Week 4 – Sunday, October 3 vs. Seattle – 1:05 p.m. PT on FOX
- WIN, 4-0
- Both teams look sloppy, but Seattle looks sloppier, and Javon Kinlaw gets his first extended snaps, wreaking havoc up the middle.
Week 5 – Sunday, October 10 at Arizona – 1:25 p.m. PT on FOX
- LOSS, moves to 4-1
- The first loss of the season as an MVP-caliber Kyler Murray causes problems and Garoppolo underwhelms again against Arizona, throwing a pair of horrendous interceptions.
Week 6 – Sunday, October 17 – BYE
Week 7 – Sunday, October 24 vs. Indianapolis – 5:20 p.m. PT on NBC
- LOSS, 4-2
- Post-bye blues? The 49ers are the better team, but look out of sorts and make too many mistakes here, with DeForest Buckner have a multi-sack revenge game.
Week 8 – Sunday, October 31 at Chicago – 10:00 a.m. PT on FOX
- WIN, 5-2
- Justin Fields vs. Trey Lance? Not quite. The Bears have been just competitive enough that they stick with Dalton until this game, inexplicably, when Fields starts the second half.
Week 9 – Sunday, November 7 vs. Arizona – 1:25 p.m. PT on FOX
- WIN, 6-2
- The 49ers eke out a win over Arizona unconvincingly at home, with Trey Sermon making the difference with a couple of touchdowns, including on the same Texas route which Jeff Wilson Jr. essentially walked it off against Arizona a couple years prior.
Week 10 – Monday, November 15 vs. Los Angeles Rams – 5:15 p.m. PT on ESPN
- LOSS, 6-3
- This is the end of the Jimmy Garoppolo era. He gets relieved by Trey Lance in the second half after one near-interception, a strip sack, and another fumble to open the second half. Lance impresses and nearly makes the comeback, but fumbles once too, trying to extend a play in the fourth quarter.
Week 11 – Sunday, November 21 at Jacksonville – 10:00 a.m. PT on FOX
- WIN, 7-3
- Lance starts his first game and out-duels Trevor Lawrence, who takes an absolute beating from the 49ers. Nick Bosa sacks him three times.
Week 12 – Sunday, November 28 vs. Minnesota – 1:25 p.m. PT on FOX
- WIN, 8-3
- Kyle Shanahan knows Kirk Cousins and Mike Zimmer’s style too well, and Dalvin Cook isn’t available for Minnesota — not that it mattered the last time they met in the playoffs. It’s more entertaining than that game, but the 49ers win by about 10.
Week 13 – Sunday, December 5 at Seattle – 5:20 p.m. PT on NBC
- LOSS, 8-4
- Trey Lance catches a lot of flak for a couple interceptions and a botched, fumbled exchange, and thanks to the easy wins which preceded it, and the couple of easy games which follow, he’ll have little chance to earn any of that favor back until Tennessee.
Week 14 – Sunday, December 12 at Cincinnati – 10:00 a.m. PT on CBS
- WIN, 9-4
- Joe Burrow is fighting for his career at this point in a game in which the 49ers absolutely maul the Bengals’ offensive line and run for more than 250 combined yards. It’s a blowout.
Week 15 – Sunday, December 19 vs. Atlanta – 1:05 p.m. PT on CBS
- WIN, 10-4
- No trap game this time, but the 49ers fail to put this one away until late, and win by an odd scoreline thanks to a missed two-point attempt earlier in the game. They win by 5.
Week 16 – Thursday, December 23 at Tennessee – 5:20 p.m. PT on NFLN
- LOSS, 10-5
- Lance performs well and runs for a season high, but Julio Jones tortures Kyle Shanahan again, receiving a game-winning touchdown pass from Derrick Henry.
Week 17 – Sunday, January 2 vs. Houston – 1:05 p.m. PT on CBS
- WIN, 11-5
- This is a bloodbath. All the one-year mercenary contracts that Houston has signed players to are waning, and they’re one of the worst five teams in the league. This game proceeds with a Trey Sermon/JaMycal Hasty type beat, and the 49ers get to rest some of their starters.
Week 18 – Sunday, January 9 at Los Angeles Rams – 1:25 p.m. PT on FOX
- WIN, 12-5
- They’re not going to lose to the Rams twice, and pull out this one to steal the division back on the final game of the season, in Los Angeles. Lance looks ready for the playoffs.
Wild Card Round – BYE
Divisional Round – VS. Rams
- WIN, onto the NFC Championship game
- The 49ers have to claw their way back in this one. Stafford, McVay and the Rams are hot, and the 49ers are missing Emmanuel Moseley and getting burned in the secondary as the Rams, given that Darrell Henderson is not a viable outside zone running back, have become a pass first offense.
- San Francisco trails by two touchdowns at the half, but they stop the Rams on their first drive and Nick Bosa strip-sacks Stafford on the next. They convert their first two drives into a field goal and touchdown, and blows are exchanged until a Trey Lance zone read rushing touchdown gives the 49ers the lead for the first time and the 49ers hold onto it despite a late push from Los Angeles.
Conference Championship – VS. Buccaneers
- WIN, NFC Champions
- Hello, Tom. Trey Lance has the best game of his career while Garoppolo watches on against the man he was supposed to replace. Tom Brady throws two interceptions — one to Fred Warner, one to Jimmie Ward — and gets pressured in a way he hasn’t most of the season. Tampa Bay can’t run the ball at all, and even with myriad weapons, the 49ers defense puts together a masterclass. That said, it’s still Brady, and he makes it closer than it has any right to be.
Super Bowl – VS. Bills
- WIN, Super Bowl Champions
- The Bills enter this game was a COVID-19 crisis after beating the Chargers, who upset the Chiefs. It all gets resolved, somehow, in the nick of time. The 49ers get their revenge for Josh Allen torching them last season. He’s still a handful, but so is the 49ers’ offense. Oh, and Mohamed Sanu throws a touchdown pass to Trey Lance.